City council forms the first Strategic Action Committee on Homelessness outlined in Pathway Home report
By Reggie Ellis
TULARE – Tulare was the first city to endorse the countywide plan to address homelessness and now it is the first city to implement one of its key strategies.
At its Feb. 18 meeting, the Tulare City Council gave final approval for the formation of the first Strategic Action Committee on Homelessness. The committee will make recommendations to the city council on ways the city can assist individuals out of homelessness, provide greater access to permanent housing, expand services to the homeless, prevent those at-risk from becoming homeless and strengthening public engagement and partnerships.
Having these committees in each city was a key strategy in coordinating to “avoid duplication of services” and ensure “efficient use of resources” outlined in the Pathway Home report created by Home Base, consultants hired by the Task Force on Homelessness to develop a plan to address homelessness in Tulare County. Mayor Jose Sigala noted the significance of being the first city to create one of the jurisdictional action committees.
“[The consultants said] ‘You guys are creating the first one out of the shoot, create it the way you want to’,” Sigala said.
The real question for the council was the number of people serving on the committee. Councilmember Carlton Jones suggested limiting the committee to five people, each picked by councilmembers to represent their district.
“If a councilmember picks themselves, then so be it,” Jones said.
Councilmember Terry Sayre called a committee of just five people “sorely limited” for such a key issue that affects every aspect of the community. Vice Mayor Dennis Mederos agreed, saying the intent of the committee was to involve key stakeholders who have expertise in the area of homelessness, such as Dave Clevenger, CEO of Lighthouse rescue mission, and Randy Dodd, president of Adventist Health in Tulare which operates the Tulare hospital. He suggested an 11-member committee.
Councilmember Greg Nunley said the city has not had luck gaining consensus from large committees which could create unnecessary delays. He said Tulare has had even less luck finding people who can consistently show up to meetings, stifling the committees ability to even have a meeting due to a lack of quorum.
“We took one commission down from seven to five members for this reason,” Nunley said.
Nunley was also concerned with the additional staff time it would take to accommodate the committee meetings.
City manager Rob Hunt said the two city staff members who will sit on the committee, Police Chief Wes Hensely and Community and Economic Development Director Traci Myers, are exempt employees, so the meetings and time associated with the committee would not be an additional cost to the city.
Mayor Jose Sigala suggested appointing five members prior to the committee’s first meeting and then having the committee select an additional four members from the list of 20 people who applied to sit on the committee, or anyone else they see fit. Having five people seated on the committee prior to its first meeting will ensure they have a quorum to appoint new members and approve other action items.
The five members appointed by the council were Chuck Miguel (via Jones), Carolyn Wong (via Mederos), Christopher Canfield (via Nunley), Susan Henard (via Sigala) and Councilmember Sayre nominated herself, as she is the city’s representative on the countywide Task Force on Homelessness.
The first meeting of the Strategic Action Committee on Homelessness happened last night, Feb. 25, after press time. Future meetings will be held on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. The first meeting was held in the Trade Room of the Tulare County Chamber of Commerce, 220 E. Tulare Ave., but future meeting locations could change.